WEF summit kicks off

Davos: The World Economic Forum`s five-day annual meeting began here this morning with top business and political leaders from across the world in attendance in this snow-laden skiing resort town, away from the gloomy economic scenario prevailing in most parts of the globe.

Ahead of the summit, a worldwide CEO survey last evening showed that the confidence has plummeted sharply about the global economic growth, even as the companies are relatively more optimistic about their own revenue growth.

In its first session, the WEF Annual Meeting 2012 is hosting a debate on the future of capitalism and its relevance in the 21st century, even as the event is often known as an annual congregation of the rich and powerful of the world.

The theme of this year`s meeting is `The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models`.
One of the key participants, Bill Gates has also called for investment in innovation to help the poor, while a host of labour leaders attending the event are seeking immediate steps to create jobs and put an end to the income inequality.

This year`s Annual Meeting has also attracted anti-inequality protesters, who have called for an `Occupy Davos` protest on the lines of `Occupy Wall Street` and `Occupy London` to put forth their opposition to the so-called `one per cent` rich and powerful population.

The protesters have erected an `igloo village` in the town, thus adding to an already hard task of Swiss army and police personnel providing security to the high-profile guest list comprising of nearly 40 heads of state. These include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, as also heads of organisations like IMF, World Bank, OECD, WTO etc.

More than 100 participants from India are expected, including industry leaders like Mukesh Ambani, Azim Premji, Sunil Mittal, Adi Godrej and Rahul Bajaj, besides Industry and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

A senior Indian delegate attending the meeting said that it would be interesting to watch whether the business leaders from India would raise the issue the policy paralysis and slowing pace of reforms at Davos WEF meeting as well, or they would continue with their usual praise for the Indian growth.

The meeting, among other issues, would discuss `India`s Tall Ambitions`, its preparedness to deliver inclusive growth for a huge population, while achieving effective governance at central and state levels and promoting its model of democratic capitalism.

There would also be a discussion on `How Immune Is India?`, in the backdrop of the Europe, Japan and the US facing serious structural and societal challenges.

Prior to the meeting, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab had said that "capitalism, in its current form, no longer fits the world around us. We have failed to learn the lessons from the financial crisis…" "A global transformation is urgently needed and it must start with reinstating a global sense of social responsibility," he had said.

WEF, a Geneva-based non-profit organisation, has been holding this Annual Meeting here for over four decades now.

Close to 40 heads of state or government from across the world are attending the meeting this year, while WEF is anticipating a record of over 2,600 participants this year, including more than 1,600 business leaders from across the world.